Helpful ReplyHot!Wood Paneling and Relish Trays: My Trip to Iowa and Eastern Nebraska

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phlmaestro
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Re: Wood Paneling and Relish Trays: My Trip to Iowa and Eastern Nebraska 2018/09/26 20:18:36 (permalink)
ScreamingChicken
Exactly the proper way to describe a non-steak entrée ordered at a steakhouse! Looks like you made an excellent choice.

 
I didn't bother to photograph what my wife ordered at a couple meals, as is often the case on our trips. She's a healthy eater. I think you know I'm not.  I felt for her. She was struggling by the time we got to the third and fourth steakhouses.
 

Your description of Main Street unfortunately applies to far too many small towns, both in the Midwest and elsewhere.



 
Yeah. I've unfortunately seen some towns that appeared to be well past their prime in our travels. I actually was pleased generally in that regard on this trip in comparison to some of the others. I mentioned how impressed I was with Pella. But there were a few smaller towns that appeared to be keeping up fairly well; one of which I'll mention in the next installment of this report, which I'm about to get started on.
post edited by phlmaestro - 2018/09/26 20:19:48
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leethebard
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Re: Wood Paneling and Relish Trays: My Trip to Iowa and Eastern Nebraska 2018/09/26 20:41:30 (permalink)
phlmaestro
ScreamingChicken
Exactly the proper way to describe a non-steak entrée ordered at a steakhouse! Looks like you made an excellent choice.

 
I didn't bother to photograph what my wife ordered at a couple meals, as is often the case on our trips. She's a healthy eater. I think you know I'm not.  I felt for her. She was struggling by the time we got to the third and fourth steakhouses.
 

Your description of Main Street unfortunately applies to far too many small towns, both in the Midwest and elsewhere.



 
Yeah. I've unfortunately seen some towns that appeared to be well past their prime in our travels. I actually was pleased generally in that regard on this trip in comparison to some of the others. I mentioned how impressed I was with Pella. But there were a few smaller towns that appeared to be keeping up fairly well; one of which I'll mention in the next installment of this report, which I'm about to get started on.


Boy you wife is a great trooper: To follow you to all those steakhouses when she doesn't even eat that way. Wow, how many wives would do that!!!
 
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Re: Wood Paneling and Relish Trays: My Trip to Iowa and Eastern Nebraska 2018/09/26 21:18:37 (permalink)
The following day, Thursday, was a big one for me. I'd finally get to do something I've been wanting to do for probably close to 20 years: eat a loosemeat sandwich. 
 
We were staying close to Bob's Drive-In in Le Mars and intended to go there for an early lunch. But Bob opened at 11 and we decided we'd like to hit the road heading south/southwest a little earlier than that. So I looked up the Miles Inn and it turned out they opened at 10. We checked out of our hotel and headed for Sioux City.
 
While the main food theme of this trip was supper-club style steakhouses, Iowa had gradually moved up on my list of places I most wanted to visit for the food over the years, and the single biggest reason for that was probably to try a loosemeat sandwich. Having said that, based on things I've read from a couple people, I was at least slightly skeptical that I'd like the sandwich when I tried it. It turned out I needn't have worried. I enjoyed the Charlie Boy I had with the works (onions, pickles, ketchup, mustard) and would probably have one a couple times a month if I lived there. I'd say I like loosemeat sandwiches, or at least this one, more than BPTs, but less than a good hamburger. 


Screwed this one up. But I'm getting better. I used to do this a lot:

This is how it arrives:


The woman who took our order and served my sandwich to me was incredibly friendly. She asked where we're from and I told her about roadfood.com. She said she knew about the roadfood guide book from some past customers who had it with them when they were there, but she was unaware of this web site. She seemed excited about checking it out. I was also glad I went to the Miles Inn because it really felt like a roadfood joint. I am not sure I'd have been about to say that about Bob's. It looked like a fast food restaurant.
 
After we left the Miles Inn, we headed into Nebraska:

Which also had a lot of cornfields (at least the eastern part):

 
We were heading south on U.S. 77 to our eventual destination when we came across Oakland, the Swedish Capital of Nebraska.


It was a fairly nice looking and very small downtown and we got out to stretch and maybe find something to drink.  We wound up walking into Nelson's Food Pride. I didn't photograph it, but it's a nice little market that has been around for a little over a century and is still owned by the original family. I enjoy walking around markets in other regions and checked out their meat section while in the store. They had a large brisket flat in stock.
 
We got something to drink and also a regional candy bar that wasn't that great. It was filled with cherry nougat. 



 
Our destination at this point was Lincoln, the next stop on our long capitals tour. I caught a glimpse of the Nebraska football stadium from the car.

Doesn't look like a football stadium from the outside.
 
And here is the center tower of the capitol with Lincoln statue:

Here I am in front of the capitol in my Lexington Barbecue hat:

 
After seeing and going inside the capitol, we drove to Omaha, where we were having dinner and spending the night. Our hotel was right across the street from the stadium where they play the NCAA World Series:

 
We checked in and headed out to dinner; the third stop on the steakhouse tour. 
 
I considered both Johnny's Café and The Drover. I had that photo of WJ's whisky ribeye at the latter in my mind and had a feeling I'd enjoy the food more there. But Johnny's is such a classic and old place that I thought it might fit in better with the theme of the trip. I was having a tough time deciding between food and atmosphere, but the fact that Johnny's was much closer to our hotel and we had spend a ton of time in the car the last couple days swayed me in that direction.
 
Of the four steakhouses I visited on this trip, Johnny's was the only one I'd call a disappointment. In fact, I found my experience there kind of depressing. The other three places were old, but they still felt like they had a lot of life left in them. I can't say that about Johnny's, although I'm not certain based on one dinner. 
 
First, there is nothing around Johnny's. It's off the highway and there is nothing there but a parking lot. Second, the inside is done in a way to make it look huge. It's got that big logo as soon as you walk in and the main dining room that we sat in felt gigantic. With those dimensions, there needed to be a big crowd and some noise to make it feel alive. It wasn't dead, but there weren't nearly enough people to make that happen. It just felt like I was sitting in a gigantic relic. There were also large empty rooms and the big lobby just had the one woman with no activity in there. It really seemed dead.
 
Having said that, our server was, again, very friendly.  
 
I wasn't sure whether I'd get prime rib or a ribeye, but they had a special restaurant week menu for charity that included prime rib as one of the entrée options, so I went with that. I again had hash browns with them.  They give you a cottage cheese spread in addition to salads. I did get the salad this time with their house dressing. There was an insane amount of this vinaigrette on there. It was like someone lost the handle of the jar or wasn't paying attention. If you took all the lettuce out, the dressing would have been almost half-way up the inside of the bowl. I don't care enough about salad to complain. I just ate a little of it. The waitress saw how much dressing was in there when she picked it up and apologized, mentioning something about a new guy in the kitchen.  The prime rib was good and I thought initially might be great, but when I got to the opposite end from where I started, the meat was a little too chewy. So I'll just call it good. There was a lot of flavor in the outer cap. They seasoned it well.
 


I think the fact that the ceilings are so high had something to do with why the room feels so huge.


I got onion rings as an appetizer for the first time on the trip.


I'll give them credit for giving it to me medium-rare, as I requested.


 
 
 
 
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Re: Wood Paneling and Relish Trays: My Trip to Iowa and Eastern Nebraska 2018/09/26 21:22:17 (permalink) ☄ Helpfulby JRPfeff 2018/09/26 21:40:28
leethebard
Boy you wife is a great trooper: To follow you to all those steakhouses when she doesn't even eat that way. Wow, how many wives would do that!!!
 

 
You're right. I love her to death.  We kind of have a deal where she goes to all of the capitols and picks a lot of the activities, and I pick the food, while trying to make sure there are always things for her to eat. This trip was tougher on her than most. I don't ever see myself doing another steakhouse tour. This was a once-in-a-lifetime thing.  In fact, we may push back next year's planned trip to Memphis and Arkansas a year to go to an area more suited to her taste and less food-oriented next year. We've talked about visiting her friends near San Francisco, then moving on to Sacramento and Carson City.
 
I will say that relish tray in the first photo was right up her alley. 
 
 



post edited by phlmaestro - 2018/09/26 21:26:09
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Re: Wood Paneling and Relish Trays: My Trip to Iowa and Eastern Nebraska 2018/09/26 21:32:29 (permalink)
phlmaestro
leethebard
Boy you wife is a great trooper: To follow you to all those steakhouses when she doesn't even eat that way. Wow, how many wives would do that!!!
 

 
You're right. I love her to death.  We kind of have a deal where she goes to all of the capitols and picks a lot of the activities, and I pick the food, while trying to make sure there are always things for her to eat. This trip was tougher on her than most. I don't ever see myself doing another steakhouse tour. This was a once-in-a-lifetime thing.  In fact, we may push back next year's planned trip to Memphis and Arkansas a year to go to an area more suited to her taste and less food-oriented next year. We've talked about visiting her friends near San Francisco, then moving on to Sacramento and Carson City.
 
I will say that relish tray in the first photo was right up her alley. 
 
 





  You guys are a great team!!!! Very lucky!!
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Re: Wood Paneling and Relish Trays: My Trip to Iowa and Eastern Nebraska 2018/09/27 08:24:51 (permalink)
phlmaestro
Our destination at this point was Lincoln, the next stop on our long capitals tour. I caught a glimpse of the Nebraska football stadium from the car.

Doesn't look like a football stadium from the outside.

And based on Nebraska's record so far there's not much football going on inside, either.
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Re: Wood Paneling and Relish Trays: My Trip to Iowa and Eastern Nebraska 2018/09/27 09:35:49 (permalink)
phlmaestro
leethebard
Boy you wife is a great trooper: To follow you to all those steakhouses when she doesn't even eat that way. Wow, how many wives would do that!!!
 

 
You're right. I love her to death.  We kind of have a deal where she goes to all of the capitols and picks a lot of the activities, and I pick the food, while trying to make sure there are always things for her to eat. This trip was tougher on her than most. I don't ever see myself doing another steakhouse tour. This was a once-in-a-lifetime thing.  In fact, we may push back next year's planned trip to Memphis and Arkansas a year to go to an area more suited to her taste and less food-oriented next year. We've talked about visiting her friends near San Francisco, then moving on to Sacramento and Carson City.
 
I will say that relish tray in the first photo was right up her alley. 
 
 




Sounds like she’d love Oregon, you not so much. I’m still heartbroken about not getting back to Bohemian Cafe one more time before it closed. :(
And Cherry Mash is better than the Twin Bing, at least in my humble opinion.
:)
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phlmaestro
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Re: Wood Paneling and Relish Trays: My Trip to Iowa and Eastern Nebraska 2018/09/27 09:44:17 (permalink)
I don't think it would take much to be better than Twin Bing.
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Re: Wood Paneling and Relish Trays: My Trip to Iowa and Eastern Nebraska 2018/09/28 21:49:30 (permalink)
Our final day of the trip, before heading home early the following day, began in Omaha and ended back in Des Moines, with a stop in between. I gave the stop away in the initial post of this report.
 
But we started the day in northern Omaha at Harold's Koffee House, which Buffetbuster recommended and I had read a lot of good things about on-line. I planned to have a final piece of pie at Harold's. They are known for both pie and small donuts, which you see, along with muffins, when you first walk in.





My wife ordered a strawberry-rhubarb muffin, which turned out to have strawberry cream in it.

 
I was disappointed with the limited pie selection of fresh strawberry, coconut and lemon-meringue, but had decided to probably get the lemon-meringue. However, I made the mistake of ordering a couple pancakes, along with bacon. The pancakes were fine (I might give the edge to the one I had at the Pharmacy in Winterset though), but they were absolutely massive, possibly the biggest standard pancakes I've ever had. I had to push them over so that they were sticking a couple inches off the plate on one side so that there would be a space where syrup could fall off the pancakes on the other.
a
I made it about three-quarters of the way through them and couldn't take another bite. The pie wasn't going to happen, which was softened a little by the fact that they didn't have any flavors that I was really in the mood for that morning.
 
We walked a couple blocks down the road and looked at a few businesses and a couple historical markers. It turned out we were in the area where the Mormons had their winter camp while making their way out West. 


I think there was a center around there that focuses on the topic, but we had plans to go to the Durham Museum at the long-closed-to-operational-trains Union Station and decided to proceed with them.


 
I had read that description of the museum before going there, but it had a much heavier focus on the station itself and old railroad cars than I'd expected; not that I had any problem with that. The huge main room of the station was beautiful and had a very attractive operational soda fountain-lunch counter.


They had a small, but interesting selection of sodas that we'd take advantage of before leaving to head east.


 
There are doors on the far side of the main room that you pass through to enter the rest of the museum.

And they had a nice little display on food on the trains and in the station.


This are two of the several old menus on display:


 
I forgot to take photos of the old trains, which were down on a lower level. The main focus was the old Union-Pacific Railroad.
 
There was also a very nice display of wild-life photos by one of the top wild-life photographers along with a film on him and his work, but no photos were allowed of that.
 
As I mentioned, we stopped for drinks at the soda fountain before leaving the museum, Omaha and Nebraska. My wife had a lime-cherry phosphate. I went for a bottle of Cheerwine. They also had Sioux City Sarsaparilla, which may only be significant to fans of The Big Lebowski.


 
We were heading back to Des Moines for the night before going to the airport in the morning. Our final meal destination, and the final classic steakhouse of the trip, was along the way. Of course, I'm referring to the Redwood Steakhouse in Anita, IA, which has a Main Street of its own a little east of the restaurant. We were a little early and drove around town.


It's not that clear in the above photo, but there is a nice-looking golf course across the road from the restaurant.
 


If I kept going to the left of this with the phone-camera, I'd eventually get to the bar. But there were people sitting between me and the bar.

And once again, the classic relish tray with salad and cottage cheese in the background.

Another bad photo. Sorry about that. These are the cheeseballs, which we decided to try in spite of all the other pre-entrée food on the table.

We enjoyed them though.
 
I had decided before the trip that I was going to order a pork chop at at-least one of the restaurants. I thought I might get one at Jesse's Embers, but while we were looking over the menu, my wife expressed her interest in getting one and told me she'd give me a piece of her chop to try. That freed me up to get a steak.  I knew I needed to have steak at Archie's and Johnny's isn't in Iowa. That left the Redwood Steakhouse, and I know WJ raved about his smoked Windsor Chop there. So that's what I ordered. I was tired of hash browns by this point and went with fries. They turned out to be of the shoe string variety, which are my favorites. 

A little closer:

 
I wasn't exactly sure what a Windsor chop was when I ordered it. It did turn out to be nice and smoky, as well as fairly salty. Combine that with the soft texture compared to other types of pork chops I've had and it really reminded me of eating a good, thick ham steak. And that's a compliment coming from me. I enjoyed this piece of meat very much and was glad I ordered it. I wound up getting something different for a main course at each of the four steakhouses: ribeye at Jesse's, NY Strip with fried shrimp at Archie's, prime rib at  Johnny's and the Windsor Pork Chop at the Redwood. While I had my issues with the atmosphere at Johnny's, I didn't have any regrets in terms of what I ordered at any of the four. Each piece of meat was high quality with just that issue of the one end of the prime rib being a little chewy. 
 
My biggest food regret had to be ordering the pancakes at Harold's, leaving me unable to try pie or a donut. I had considered skipping breakfast and getting a burger and fries and regretted not doing that after the fact.  The single best thing I ate on the trip was the banana-meringue pie at the Coffee Cup. Thanks to those who convinced me that was a necessary food stop to make. While Johnny's was my least favorite of the four steakhouses, I really can't pick a favorite among the other three. I enjoyed them all. It was fantastic to get to eat in a couple more pharmacies too. I still get a bit of a thrill when I do that.
 
It was great to see that part of the country and as I mentioned several times, most of the people we ran into in the various restaurants we visited were extremely friendly, which, as ScreamingChicken knows very well, isn't something we get every day in this part of the country. It's almost always very refreshing for me when I visit the Midwest or center of the country.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
post edited by phlmaestro - 2018/09/28 22:26:02
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Re: Wood Paneling and Relish Trays: My Trip to Iowa and Eastern Nebraska 2018/09/28 22:24:23 (permalink)
Great report!  Thanks!
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Re: Wood Paneling and Relish Trays: My Trip to Iowa and Eastern Nebraska 2018/09/29 01:45:31 (permalink)
Thanks for your report. I really enjoyed it.
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Re: Wood Paneling and Relish Trays: My Trip to Iowa and Eastern Nebraska 2018/09/29 08:58:28 (permalink)
Phantastic report!
 
Thanks for cluing me in to the Union Pacific museum. I recently read a book on the transcontinental railroad and another on Fred Harvey and his railway food. This would tie nicely to each of those.
 
Jim
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Re: Wood Paneling and Relish Trays: My Trip to Iowa and Eastern Nebraska 2018/09/29 10:56:38 (permalink)
Fantastic report!  I am glad you enjoyed the Redwoods! Since I live only 10 minutes away, I can enjoy that wonderful throwback, the relish tray, anytime I want. I have never been disappointed with anything I ordered there. My only quibble with the Redwoods is the lack of windows overlooking the fantastic view of the golf course.
 
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Re: Wood Paneling and Relish Trays: My Trip to Iowa and Eastern Nebraska 2018/09/29 11:21:13 (permalink)
I was born in Minnesota, grew up in Wisconsin, then lived in the U.P. and now lower Michigan.  Do residents of other regions really notice "Midwestern nice"?  I admit when I've traveled, particularly east coast cities, to feeling a little too sensitive to the brusqueness or lack of smiles and eye contact.  Thought it was perhaps due to my small town living experience, where on main street, if you meet another pedestrian, it's very typical to get a smile land a good morning from a stranger.  Admittedly not a lot of strangers, LOL.  I so enjoyed your trip report, thanks very much!  As a kid on the rare dining out experiences with my parents I was always given the cheese spread and the breadsticks - I wouldn't touch the herring, pickled beets or liver spread (I didn't learn the word pate until much later)  :)  
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phlmaestro
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Re: Wood Paneling and Relish Trays: My Trip to Iowa and Eastern Nebraska 2018/09/29 11:38:07 (permalink)
Thanks, everyone.
 
blizzardstormus
Fantastic report!  I am glad you enjoyed the Redwoods! Since I live only 10 minutes away, I can enjoy that wonderful throwback, the relish tray, anytime I want. I have never been disappointed with anything I ordered there. My only quibble with the Redwoods is the lack of windows overlooking the fantastic view of the golf course.

 
Wow! That's fantastic. 
 
On the lack of windows, I think it would be nice to have them for lunch, although I'm not even sure if they're open for lunch. I think the fairly dark setting adds to the atmosphere for dinner.
 
lazycook
I was born in Minnesota, grew up in Wisconsin, then lived in the U.P. and now lower Michigan.  Do residents of other regions really notice "Midwestern nice"?  I admit when I've traveled, particularly east coast cities, to feeling a little too sensitive to the brusqueness or lack of smiles and eye contact.  Thought it was perhaps due to my small town living experience, where on main street, if you meet another pedestrian, it's very typical to get a smile land a good morning from a stranger.  Admittedly not a lot of strangers, LOL.  I so enjoyed your trip report, thanks very much!  As a kid on the rare dining out experiences with my parents I was always given the cheese spread and the breadsticks - I wouldn't touch the herring, pickled beets or liver spread (I didn't learn the word pate until much later)  :)  

 
I've noticed a difference in other regions too, but it seems to be more consistent in the Midwest. I know I've mentioned on here before how blown away my friend and I were by the reception we received from employees and Packers fans at Lambeau Field while we had Eagles gear on. People who where the opposing team's gear to an Eagles game in Philadelphia are almost certain to be harassed, at the least. 
 
 
 
post edited by phlmaestro - 2018/09/29 11:39:37
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